Vegetables contain more nutrients when raw. This is only partly true, as some vegetables actually become more nutritious when heated.
Vegetables contain many valuable vitamins and minerals. But there are different opinions on how best to absorb them. The myth that nutrients are lost during cooking is a persistent one. This is true for some vegetables, but cooking, frying, roasting, or steaming can increase nutrient absorption for some foods.
There’s a reason why the cartoon character Popeye loves to eat spinach: after all, the green, leafy vegetable is full of vitamin C, magnesium, iron, vitamin B6, and calcium. Studies show that most hot cooking methods make spinach healthier. Cooking destroys the oxalate substance contained in spinach, which blocks the absorption of calcium and iron in the intestines.
Carrots contain a lot of beta-carotene, which is good for the heart, circulation, and skin, among other things. Raw carrots, on the other hand, make it difficult for the body to absorb the substance; cooking the vegetables makes it easier. This is because the cell walls of the carrot swell during cooking, and the beta-carotene dissolves. In order for the body to be able to process beta-carotene, it also needs some fat.
This also applies to potatoes, which also contain a lot of beta-carotene. The cooking process destroys the cells, and the body can absorb the vitamins better. Starches and proteins are also easier to digest when cooked.
How about green beans? Better not because they contain a protein called lectin, which interferes with the absorption of nutrients. Eating raw green beans can even cause nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea. Heating, particularly at high temperatures, deactivates the lectins while increasing their nutritional value.
Celery juice has been experiencing hype for years. No wonder: after all, vegetables contain antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K. According to studies, cooking celery increases vitamin K and antioxidant content. However, you have to live with a loss of vitamin C and fiber.
Tomatoes are one of the best sources of the antioxidant lycopene, which reduces the risk of cancer and prevents heart disease. Cooking makes it easier for the body to absorb the substance.
When garlic is cut, the substance allicin is released, which contributes to a healthy heart and can even reduce the risk of cancer. However, this substance is deactivated again by heating and is lost. It is, therefore, preferable to consume garlic raw if you want to reap the full benefits.
The situation is similar with onions: when raw, they contain more thiosulfinate, a substance that helps to inhibit inflammation. It is lost during cooking, especially if the onions have been chopped beforehand. Sweating onions at a low temperature for a few minutes can increase the flavonoid content.
Beet is often available pre-cooked in stores, but it is much healthier raw. Thanks to their good nutritional values, they can lower blood pressure, for example. Flavonoids, folic acid, and vitamin C are lost when cooked in water.
There is a reason why kale has been in vogue for years – the cruciferous vegetable contains high amounts of glucosinolates, which stimulate the immune system and have an antibiotic effect. Heat can destroy these and also reduce the levels of vitamin C, potassium, iron and zinc.
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